Freezing Equipment and Cryogenics
Cryogenic processing can only be performed through a highly specialized process. It’s not something that everyone is able to do, or can be done with little or no knowledge. There are so many factors in play that determine the outcome of the job.
That’s why it’s essential to not only have the necessary skill but also the appropriate equipment. Cryogenic processing is one of those tasks that require the use of special equipment. Without it, there’s just no way to follow through with it.
One of the main reasons why equipment is so essential to the entire process is because cryogenic materials need special handling. They pose significant risks to health and safety if improperly handled.
What equipment do you need for cryogenic freezing?
In order to achieve the extremely low temperatures that are in the cryogenic range, special equipment needs to be used. Many people have the misconception in which they equate refrigeration and cryogenics.
The cryogenic temperature range is defined from -238°F to −460°F, far more than what refrigerators are able to achieve.
As such, equipment that’s typically used in refrigeration applications isn’t really useful for cryogenics. The equipment that is used for cryogenics typically includes cryogenic processors, pressure vessels, cryo tanks, vacuum jacketed piping, cold traps, purifiers, transfer lines, and more.
Each component plays a vital role in maintaining the efficacy of the process while also ensuring health and safety for workers.
Take transfer lines, for example. They allow for the safe transfer of cryogenic liquid from one place to another without risking workers to exposure.
It’s also important for cryogenic equipment to be properly insulated. This is done to keep the effectiveness of the components at a high level.
Maintaining temperature levels is key to efficient cryogenics processing. Insulation also helps protect the workers from these dangerously low temperatures during handling.
Dewar flasks are among the most commonly used cryogenics components. This specialized container is named after Sir James Dewar. A Dewar flask is basically a holding chamber for cryogenic liquids that’s within near vacuum.
What it does is prevent the transmission of heat from its contents due to conduction and convection. Through the use of reflective coatings, it also minimizes the transmission of heat through radiation.
A primer on cryogenic processors
A cryogenic processor is designed with the express purpose of reaching the extremely low temperatures in the cryogenic temperature range. It does that at a slow and sustained rate in order to mitigate the risk of thermal shock to the components that are being treated.
Ed Busch developed the first commercial cryogenic processor in the late 1960s. It revolutionized the industry as the programmable microprocessor allowed control over the machine and made it possible to follow temperature profiles closely to increase the effectiveness of the process.
Cryogenic processing looked quite different before these processors came into service. The entire process was carried out manually by simply immersing the object in liquid nitrogen. There was no temperature control and no data for the technicians to really understand what was going on.
This would result in thermal shock occurring in the object being treated and thereby forming cracks in the structure as the temperature would drop so rapidly. Modern cryogenic processors prevent this.
They do that by measuring the changes in temperature and adjust the input of cryogenic materials like liquid nitrogen accordingly to ensure that there are only fractional changes in the temperature over a period of time.
This level of efficiency helps both service providers and clients. That’s because temperature measurements and adjustments of materials that have already been treated are stored in profiles.
This way, if the process needs to be repeated at some point in the future on similar objects, it can be done so quickly and with an even lower risk of something going wrong.
Modern cryogenic processors have a three-day time window to complete a general processing cycle. They are able to reach the optimal bottom temperature within 24 hours for a product, a further 24 hold at the lowest temperature, and another 24 hours to bring the object being treated gradually back to room temperature.
Just as dropping the temperature too rapidly can result in cracks to the structure, raising it too quickly can have adverse effects as well. It also depends on the objects being treated.
Some may require further heat treatment in an over at higher temperatures. Many cryogenic processors are able to provide both extreme positive and negative temperatures.
Simply put, cryogenic processors have changed the way the entire process is carried out for the better. Before them, much of the cryogenics processing was basically done through guesswork. Therefore, the results would often not be up to par.
There was also a higher rate of material loss because of it. Cryogenic processors have added a layer of accuracy and consistency that wasn’t possible before. The great thing about this is that they’re only going to improve over time.
The latest advancements in technology have allowed for more precise and powerful cryogenic processors. They’re capable of achieving levels of precision and accuracy that wasn’t possible before, thereby making them indispensable to the industry.
Other types of Cryogenic freezing equipment
- Mechanical Freezers Cryogenic freezers are widely used in research laboratories for many different requirements, such as the long term storage of low-temperature scientific experiments, the preservation of cell cultures, bacteria, bone material, etc.These freezers are capable of maintaining temperatures in the cryogenic range with a relatively low energy consumption, making them suitable even for small-scale labs.There are solutions available that don’t require cryogenic liquids. Mechanical cryogenic freezers are better suited to these cases than those that require cryogenic materials like liquid nitrogen.That’s because it avoids any possibility of cross contamination. For customers, there’s also an additional benefit in that they no longer need to source cryogenic liquids or invest in specialized equipment for its safe handling.
- Cryogenic TunnelsCryogenics is also utilized in the food industry. Certain types of products, particularly those that are prone to spoiling, need to be cryogenically frozen so that they can be shipped across continents.Cryogenic tunnels make this possible. They consist of a heavy duty belt system and gearbox that are usually reinforced to cater to heavy loads. Stainless steel is commonly used to manufacture these machines.Food freezing actually happens to be one of the most common applications of cryogenic freezing. It delivers some distinct advantages over other methods of freezing.The process is significantly faster and more flexible, it allows for freezing at much lower temperatures, and it also takes up less space.
With cryogenic freezing, it’s also possible to minimize the dehydration of frozen items all while retaining the item’s quality, color, and texture.
Cryocoolers are suitable solutions for small systems that require the use of cryogenic temperatures but don’t necessarily need a large scale cryogenics solution. The cryocoolers are generally table-top size and have an input power of less than 20kW. Some systems even have input powers of less than 2-3 W.Cryocoolers operate much in the way that large scale systems do, in that they also rely on a cryogenic liquid and utilize moving parts to cycle the liquid around a thermodynamic cycle.The fluid used in these coolers is first compressed at room temperature and then precooled in a heat exchanged before being expanded at low temperature.This low pressure fluid then passes through the heat exchanger to precool the high pressure fluid before it enters the compressor intake. This cycle repeats for as long as the cryocooler is being used.
Upcoming advances in cryogenic freezing equipment
It’s an exciting time in cryogenics. Major advancements are being made to further improve the reliability and efficiency of the processes. Next-generation cryogenic processors are expected to be even more precise, allowing for more control over the process and thus improving outcomes.
A vast network has developed in the cryogenics industry over the past couple of decades. This has significantly advanced the technology and educated customers about the potential benefits of using cryogenics.
This widespread knowledge about cryogenics has helped it transform its reputation from something of a sci fi movie object to an effective tool.
At Controller Thermal Processing Cryogenics, we’re actively involved in shaping the future of cryogenics. We’re among the leaders in the industry, having nearly four decades of experience in cryogenics.
We count some of the biggest companies in the United States among our clients, they include the likes of the USPS, Remington Firearms, and others. CTP Cryogenics provides its services to clients across the United States from three locations.
Our proprietary deep cryogenic treatment is highly regarded industry wide for the benefits that it can provide. We use state-of-the-art equipment and also provide additional services to our clients.
These services include micropolishing, metallurgical advising, and the sales of specialized cryogenics equipment.
If you’re interested in finding out how cryogenics processing can help your business, reach out today for a free consultation or quotation and we’ll be happy to help you out.